This disturbing warning was picked up by the Mercury from another publication. Whether the sinister gentleman campaigning about naked ladies actually existed, of course, is a another matter . . .
“The following curious communication from a correspondent under the signature “OBSERVATOR,” appears in the Courier of Wednesday:
‘An Important Caution. – Ladies who are accustomed to wear their dresses extremely low in the back and bosom, or off the shoulders, are particularly requested to beware a person, who has for some time frequented all places of public amusement, and many private parties. He is an elderly gentleman, of venerable appearance, and correct manners; his constant practice when he observes a lady dressed in the manner above described is, with an almost imperceptible, and apparently accidental pressure of a little instrument which he carries in his hand, to imprint the following words upon her back or shoulders, ‘Naked, but not ashamed.’
The stain is like that produced by lunar caustic*; washing will not remove it, and it becomes more visible by exposure to the air, so that nothing but a covering can conceal it. It is said that several ladies were marked last summer at various places of fashionable resort; and that they cannot, even now, strip for company, without displaying this indelible stamp of reproof.'”
Stamford Mercury 12th July, 1816.
*Lunar caustic is silver nitrate, which was used as a cauterizing agent. It stains skin jet black on exposure to light.